I make this blog post mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said several years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.”

One of my biggest and proudest moments before I wrapped up my Atlas Corps Fellowship journey and  this chapter of my life in Washington, DC was to serve as one of the panelists at the Alliance for Peacebuilding Annual Conference. I am grateful for this opportunity and super proud to have been one of the speakers at the most-talked-about Alliance for Peacebuilding Annual Conference 2016 held at FHI 360 DC from May 24-26, 2016.

13220810_10153739253278920_3418522257894182751_nMy co-presenters from the US Department of State, Nexus Fund, Poseidon Analytics and the PeaceTech Lab of USIP and I presented on the topic: Hacking for Peace; the‪ ‎peacehackdc 2015 success story.

Peacehack is an initiative that brings together technologists, designers, developers and peace practitioners to create and realise ideas and solutions that can be used to stop violent conflict and help build peace. In 2015 hacks took place in London, DC, Beirut, Barcelona and Colombo. Each hackathon focused on challenges relevant to their local context from CVE in London and DC and issues facing refugees and migrants in Beirut and Barcelona. PeacehackDC featured an opening panel of CVE experts from USAID, the State Department and the Alliance for Peacebuilding, two days of hacking and welcomed judges from Creative, the World Bank, and GSA. Two of winning solutions that came out of the Peacehackdc 2015 were:

  • VALLATION: A Hate speech early-warning and response system.
    1. A system designed to analyze global emotions. Alerting Local Peacebuilders and advancing counter-violence narratives.
  • DISRUPT: A game designed to Disrupt ISIS Messaging.
    1. The idea players to target are in countries in the MENA region with younger, higher income population with large elements of fighters engaged with ISIS

During the presentation and workshop session, we engaged participants with many Qs & As and activities. Lessons learned on opportunities and challenges of hosting from the Hacking for Peace session at the Alliance for Peacebuilding Annual Conference 21016:

  • Opportunities:
    • Bring together a diverse group of people who don’t normally work together
    • Create new and innovative ideas
    • Get more people interested in a certain topic/ issue areas
  • Challenges:
    • Getting the right mix of people (coders, designers, project managers, etc)
    • Developing and sustaining winning innovations

An example of a challenge statement: “A recent UN report (May 2015) states “it is crucial that no social spaces be left to be colonized by radicalizers. Counter-messaging, whether by Governments or civil society, is essential. Today, much of this activity relates to the digital space, including ever-evolving forms of social media.” How can individuals counter the colonization of social spaces by those espousing violent extremism? What messaging or use of social media could be effective to take back digital space for messages of peace?”

Eric Thomas once said “You cannot afford to live in potential for the rest of your life; at some point, you have to unleash the potential and make your move. I believe world peace is achievable by using a collective approach. Initiatives such as the PeacehackDC that brings together technologists, designers, developers and peace practitioners to create and realise ideas and solutions that can be used to stop violent conflict and help build peace.

‪#‎ICT4PEACE ‪#‎AtlasCorpsRepresent ‪#‎ProudLiberian ‪#‎Peace ‪#‎AfPeacebuilding‪#‎WorldPeace ‪#‎BeThePeace ‪#‎CVE

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